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Frequently asked questions relating to Chelsea leasehold conveyancing

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Chelsea. Before diving in I would like to find out the unexpired term of the lease.

Assuming the lease is registered - and almost all are in Chelsea - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

I am intending to let out my leasehold flat in Chelsea. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Is permission from the freeholder required?

Notwithstanding that your previous Chelsea conveyancing lawyer is not available you can review your lease to check if you are permitted to let out the apartment. The rule is that if the deeds are non-specific, subletting is permitted. There may be a precondition that you need to obtain permission via your landlord or some other party in advance of subletting. The net result is you not allowed to sublet in the absence of prior permission. The consent must not not be unreasonably refused ore delayed. If the lease prohibits you from letting out the property you should ask your landlord if they are willing to waive this restriction.

There are only 68 years left on my flat in Chelsea. I need to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be lengthened by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you have used your best endeavours to locate the lessor. For most situations an enquiry agent should be helpful to try and locate and prepare an expert document to be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer both on devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Chelsea.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Chelsea. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before my ownership?

Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. It is an essential part of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure to have an up to date clear service charge receipt before completion of your purchase. If you have a mortgage this is likely to be a requirement of your lender.

If you purchase part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded even if they relate to a period prior to your purchase. In such circumstances your conveyancer would normally arrange for the seller to set aside some money to cover their part of the period (usually called a service charge retention).

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Chelsea with the purpose of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Chelsea can be reduced if you appoint lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Chelsea leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord consenting to such changes. Where you dont have the paperwork in place do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your lawyer in the first instance.
  • A minority of Chelsea leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying the yearly service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are settled prior to the flat being put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be warry about purchasing a property where a dispute is ongoing. You may need to swallow your pride and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over rather than unresolved.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable verify this via your conveyancers. A buyer’s lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • I am the registered owner of a garden flat in Chelsea. Given that I can not reach agreement with the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the premium due for a lease extension?

    You certainly can. We are happy to put you in touch with a Chelsea conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Chelsea premises is 150A Albert Palace Mansions Lurline Gardens in July 2013. The Tribunal determined that the premium payable for the new lease of the subject property was £42,069 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 57.06 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Chelsea